On The Afro-Arab Experience   ◆

Ethar, a “Black Arab”, writing in Blavity:

Despite the good vibes I constantly send to my identities—my various me’s—others are not always so gracious or understanding.

For example, something that sometimes gets to me in my experience as an Arab is that some people say or think that I’m not really Arab. As in I’m not legitimately Arab. The reasoning I’ve gotten as to why is that this is mainly due to the fact that I’m black, or dark-skinned, or however it is put.

But does being dark-skinned or black negate Arabness? Does not having a light mocha shade as the darkest hue of your skin mean you’re not legitimately Arab? Not really, is the answer. There are some Saudis who are a lot darker than my coffee-with-creamer skin color and yet they are as Arab as you can get, from most people’s perspective.

A timely reminder that people are more than their religion, race, or skin color, and that not all Muslims are from “the Middle East” or “look Middle-Eastern”. Three of the seven “banned” countries—Sudan, Libya, and Somalia—are in Africa.

GitLab.com deletes production data, had no working backups   ◆

GitLab hosts hundreds of thousands of open source software projects, and had massive data loss due to a sysadmin error. They didn’t have working backups:

So in other words, out of 5 backup/replication techniques deployed none are working reliably or set up in the first place.

It’s not enough to “have a backup”. You need to know your backups work. I’ve been preaching this for fifteen years now.

Step One: Back up your data.

Step Two: Test your backups.

Check your backups now, people.

Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Drones Have a Bright Future   ◆

Wired:

It’s too soon to say whether anything Lady Gaga did tonight will resonate, but at least she offered something new: An army of dancing drones, ducking and dodging over the Houston skyline, transforming from stars to a fluttering flag.

It’s probably the first time you’ve seen 300 drones flying in formation, but it’s almost certainly not the last. The technology underpinning the Intel Shooting Star drone system is fascinating in and of itself, but its potential applications are even more so. The same drones that accompanied Lady Gaga will one day revolutionize search-and-rescue, agriculture, halftime shows, and more.

I was wondering how they were doing it. I thought I was animation/CGI. Drones are way cooler, and a neat piece of tech that might be Actually Useful™ one day.

Why Deep Space Nine and Voyager May Never Get the HD Remaster They Deserve   ◆

Even though I’m not a huge Star Trek fan, I loved Deep Space Nine and mostly enjoyed Voyager. This interview with Robert Meyer Burnett, who was deeply involved in The Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-Ray sets
reads like a detective novel, and caused me much stress.

Unlike TNG, which shot both all of their live-action and all of their model photography on 35mm film, which made scanning the original elements possible, both DS9 and Voyager made extensive use of CGI for their visual effects, especially in the later seasons. Those visual effects were rendered in standard NTSC resolution, with a maximum of 525 scan lines of resolution per second, split between two interlaced video fields of 262.5 scan lines running at 60 fields per second. So, the original resolution remains far, far below what audiences used to today’s HD, and now UHD resolutions, are accustomed to. These VFX could be upscaled 5x, but they’d have no detail. The Starship Defiant would look like a fuzzy, grey blob.

The bottom line, kids: work at the highest resolution you can, for as long as you can. And keep your originals.

National Handwriting Day Quiz   ◆

Time:

The following interactive tests your handwriting by challenging you to draw cursive letters on the screen and comparing them to the standard version that was taught in elementary schools for decades.

I failed miserably.

I Made My Wife a Drink

My lovely wife came home feeling stressed from work. She really needed a drink and asked me to make her one. Her only requirements were “sweet” and “whiskey”.

Challenge accepted.

After taking a look around at my collection of stuff, I settled on the bottle of Galliano I had sitting around doing nothing. It’s a sweet Italian liquor that has a root-beer-y, vanilla-y, slightly anise-y flavor. It’s also bright yellow.

After some consideration, I decided to pair it with Bourbon, Woodford Reserve to be precise.

I thought adding some orange flavor might round things out. I poured in some orange juice, but after tasting it, realized that tarted up too much, and needed some taming. Grand Mariner to the rescue!

The wife  was pleased.

Mission Accomplished!

Instructions

Fill a coupe with ice and water. Set aside.

In a mixing glass half-filled with ice, add

  • 1 ounce of Woodford Reserve Bourbon

  • 1 ounce of Galliano

  • 1/4 ounce of orange juice

  • 1/4 ounce of Grand Mariner

  • 2 dashes of Regans’ No. 6 Orange Bitters

  • 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Stir vigorously for 20 – 30 seconds.

Dump the ice and water from the coupe, then strain the cocktail into it, and serve.

Dose of Sunshine cocktail.
I’m calling this Dose of Sunshine. Hit me up on Twitter (@jasonian) and let me know what you think.

The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned   ◆

Josh Rogin in The Washington Post:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy and three of his top officials. It’s not clear if they resigned on their own, or if they were pushed out.

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”

Regardless of whether they chose to leave or not, it’s a statement on the Trump administration. Either these career officers couldn’t bear to work under Trump (and he was unable to convince them otherwise), or Trump decided he didn’t want (or need?) their expertise.

Either way, their departure leaves the State Department worse off, and U.S. diplomats less safe.